Jacques Lacan concludes that “there is no such thing as a sexual relationship.” In chapter two of In Praise of Love, Badiou elaborates on what exactly Lacan meant by that.
In sex, “each individual is to a large extent on their own,” and at the end of the day, “the please will always be your own pleasure.” Yes, you clearly need at least two to have sex and you can pleasure each other, but “what is real is that pleasure takes you a long way away” from the other because you both experience pleasure separately.
Lacan says sexual relationships don’t exist and that love is what comes to replace that non-relationship. Badiou writes:
In love the individual goes beyond himself, beyond the narcissistic. In sex, you are really in a relationship with yourself via the mediation of the other. The other helps you to discover the reality of pleasure. In love, on the contrary, the mediation of the other is enough in itself. Such is the nature of the amorous encounter: you do to take on the other, to make him or her exist with you, as he or she is.
Badiou refers to a passage in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex where she reduces post-sex to a type of theatrical farce. Badiou is disgusted by this.
While desire focuses on the other, always in a somewhat fetishist manner, on particular objects, like breasts, buttocks and cock…love focuses on the very being of the other, on the other as it has erupted, fully armed with its being into my life this disrupted and re-fashioned.
Badiou’s depiction of love as disruptive and re-inventing doesn’t sound as Romantic as it appears to be. He doesn’t claim that it will be the answer to all your questions or that it will lift your soul towards the divine. He’s just saying that love takes risk and precisely because it is to predicated on chance, it also disrupts. Love also doesn’t stay the same, it need to re-invent and re-fashion itself….but that’s for tomorrow’s post!